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Monday, March 24, 2008

Perfume Review: Neil Morris Dark Earth

"Winter kept us warm, covering earth in forgetful snow". Spring came, and there is a raw, poignant smell in the air, the smell of life beginning anew only to end all too soon. I feel vulnerable in spring. And nothing expresses that feeling better, in olfactory terms, than earthy perfumes. The earthy fragrance extraordinaire is Christopher Brosious's genius creation, Black March. It is too disturbingly realistic for me, the smell of freshly dug grave. Not a scent I can wear. Not even one that I dare to re-visit.

Neil Morris's Dark Earth smells wonderfully real too, evoking the aroma of bare, moist spring soil, spread bare, taut in the effort "to breed lilacs" out of its fertile depths. But realistic as it is, Dark Earth is also fairly stylized. Black March is a smell of earth. Dark earth is a perfume about earth. It is a happier scent for me, heralding the new beginning rather than the end of the world. The joyous feel of Dark Earth might possibly stem from the fact that it has certain sweetness. And the powdery finish in the base, which to me is a trademark of (many) Morris's scents, is that welcome reminder that this is, after all, a perfume. And I Love Perfume.

Dark Earth is one of the Vault fragrances. According to, the Vault fragrances will be available online in April 2008. Right now, you can order them over the phone or via email. "Each two-ounce spray bottle of Parfum is made in small quantities signed by Neil and retails for $150.00 plus shipping. Samples of each fragrance are also available for $4.00 plus shipping. "

The painting is by Erte.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an evocative review of an unusual scent! Dark Earth is a great name too. The aroma it is capturing is one of my own favorite things - there is nothing like the rush of snowmelt water, the damp smell of thawing soil and the shimmer of new growth, just barely discernable on the ground and in the air. Lovely!

10:41 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

This really is a gorgeous scent. Am so glad he's going to get those vault scents online soon - I like being able to order in the middle of the night to ease bouts of insomnia. And love that Erte.

6:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, there is just nothing like that damp, raw smell!

7:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I hate phones and am to lazy to visit actual stores (where possible), so I think everything must at all times be available online :-)

7:24 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I think your comparison of Dark Earth and Black March is perfect -- and I feel the exact opposite about them. I love the garden-loam earthiness of Black March, which I pretend CB named after me ;-P Dark Earth's perfuminess just gets in the way ... I am actually surprised you like it as much as you do, given your reaction to Black March. That one note is really similar.

PS Did you see Allure? Bunch o' perfume stuff again.

7:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Allure rulz this month :-)
It's exactly the perfuminess that saves Dark earth for me. Your scent, Black March, is too realistic for me. :-)

7:49 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Love Black March (both the scent and the person). Like Dark Earth. (So far, my two NM loves are Gotham and Parfum d'Ida). It's my birthday today and I can't decide what perfume to wear. Tonight we are going out, so it will be something sexy. Today I am teaching, so. . .

7:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Judith,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Many happy returns!!
Let us know what you decided to wear :-)

8:02 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gorgeous review! And I adore the Erte painting you chose to accompany it. Of the Neil Morris scents, I think I'd like to try Gotham the most, but you do make Dark Earth sound very intriguing.

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I liked Gotham, but I liked this even more.

8:27 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

There's room for all opinions !
I DO love this one, myself.
But I'm such a 'roll-in-the-mud' sort of girl...

[I literally used to take inner-city NY kids, age 8-9, from Harlem, and have them roll down the hills in the pouring rain in the summer- when I was a 15 yo camp counselor at sleepaway 'fresh-air' camp, LOL !]

Happy Birthday, Judith baby !

8:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What a sight that must have been! Love it.

8:33 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Thank you! I don't know, but Sniffapalooza magazine has a piece on "astrological perfumes." I theortically don't believe in these things, but I ALWAYS look at them! It says:
ARIES (planet Mars, element Fire) : the first sign is heroic and hot-headed, destined for peppers, warm spices like coriander and ginger, and hot coffee. Since Mars is a warrior, he rules over the leather family, and smoky scents like tobacco, birch tar and cade. All red flowers, such as carnation and hibiscus are Arian.
Sounds right on, actually, except I don't know what cade is and I can't think of fragrances with hibiscus--will google (they are probably in my favorite fumes)!

8:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That really sounds like you. Leo, on the other hand, doesn't sound too much like me:
LEO (planet Sun, element Fire): all incense gums and resins are ruled by the Sun,
golden citruses like orange and mandarin, as well as neroli flowers. Spices that
give a sensation of both warmth and sweetness (cinnamon, cassia).
Also rosemary and juniper. Bay laurel is sacred to Apollo.

But then I don't know what IS me, these days...

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I do like Dark Earth, but I'll always prefer Black March, which is so not gravey!!! :))) *spritzing BM on in rebellion*

10:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It so is! :-D

10:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remembered how you felt about black march, so i had to go apply it. having been playing with lily scents the last couple of days, what i smelled, beyond the grave, were lilies! i wonder if you attended a funeral where lilies were used - triggering such a deep impression of the grave/death when you sniff BM.

to me BM smells like hope - soft green stems and leaves and red-orange flowers emerging from delicious, sweet dirt. i love CB's dirt accord. it smells like childhood in New Jersey.

have yet to try the Neil Morris oeuvre, but they do sound tempting. - minette

12:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Lilies and earth! Chilling. :-)

12:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is specifically with reference to the Sniffapalooza horoscope-linked fragrance profiles:
What we know as a "carnation" is named for the fact that it is the color of (Caucasian) skin (carne-); it's therefore emphatically not a red *flower* - although the clovey scent can certainly be thought of as red.

OK, climbing off my lecture podium, with profuse apologies to all ~

4:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Marina, you had me at "Hello". I have not as of yet tried Black March and now I am longing for both. Here in the Northeast we are beginning to experience the thaw that leads into Spring. The earth is dark and wet everywhere, but little green shoots are shyly poking their heads through. There is a rich smell to the air although the dankness of winter is still with us. It's as if you can almost smell the earth turning her face towards the sun. I just love it. Thank you for the wonderful review!

4:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Judith!!

Where are you off to tonight? A little Tabac Blonde, or something even sexier?

6:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Anonymous,
That is very informative, thank you.

7:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

No, thank YOU for such a beautiful comment.

7:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, I'm catching up with being able to like the genius of a scent without the slightest inclination to wear it. Lucky for me, as there are a lot like Black March that are fun to smell, but (at least for me) unwearable.

2:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yep, lots of those for me too.

7:42 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'm going to have to try some of these although I am almost loathe to0- I'm afraid of another lemming-in-the-making!

12:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to meet Neil last night and had a custom fragrance made! He is not only, obviously a fellow perfume addict, but a really fun guy!

I love love the top and middle notes of my new fragrance- but I am not sure I am ultimately happy with the dry down.....but like any custom adventure, half of the fun is the creating.

1:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think you should be afraid. :-)

2:02 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How wonderful! Perhaps you will get used to the base notes yet?

2:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Scentman said...

Hi Marina and everyone!

Thank you so much for your review of Dark Earth. I'm so happy you like it. I do strive to create wearable fragrances and your comment that it's a perfume ABOUT earth is perfect. There are notes of Myrrh, Frankincense, Sandalwood and Musk included with the Earth note. I have not had the pleasure of smelling CB's Black March but I hope to sample it during Sniffa next month.

Hope you're well and Fragrant Dreams to all!!


5:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you for stopping by and for telling us about the notes! It's always fascinating to know what exactly went into the composition.

6:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was left a bit confused by the the end of the it, I still didn't have a sense of what it smelled like. Earthy with a bit of sweetness? The name is quite PC-gaming geeky!

8:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Faizan :-)
It's a very interesting scent, you should try it.

8:37 PM EDT  

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